HILLSBORO — The federal discrimination suit brought by former Hillsboro city employee Craig Jackson against the City of Hillsboro and Mayor Drew Hastings was dismissed this week by agreement of both parties after an out-of-court settlement was reached, with the city and its insurance companies agreeing to pay $150,000 to Jackson and his attorneys.
The breakdown of the payment between Jackson and his attorneys is not included in the settlement document.
The Times-Gazette obtained details of the settlement after filing a public records request with the city on Friday. The request was fulfilled Friday afternoon by Columbus attorney Drew Piersall, who represented the city and Hastings.
The settlement states that the claims made by Jackson are “expressly denied by Hillsboro and Drew Hastings,” and that no admission of wrongdoing is included in the agreement, which was signed in late November by both Jackson and Hastings.
Jackson’s last day of employment with the city was Nov. 24, 2017, according to the document, and “effective November 25, 2017, Hillsboro shall place Jackson on unpaid administrative leave,” with Jackson agreeing to apply for disability benefits including retirement with the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, and the city agreeing not to oppose the benefits.
The agreement stipulates that Jackson agrees “never to seek employment with Hillsboro.” The settlement states that Jackson agrees to dismiss any other actions filed or pending against the city or Hastings, and agrees “to cooperate with Hillsboro and its lawyers, without any additional compensation, in defending Hillsboro relating to any pending or threatened mattes involving Hillsboro.”
Jackson filed suit last September, alleging a “racially hostile work environment,” among other claims.
Jackson’s attorney, Marc Mezibov of Cincinnati, confirmed Friday that a settlement had been reached but declined further comment, as did Piersall and Hastings.
The federal court entry dismissing the case, dated Jan. 16, states that both Jackson and Hastings “stipulate to the dismissal of this action with prejudice,” meaning Jackson is barred from filing another claim on the same case. Previously-filed court records note that mediation and various telephone conferences had been arranged.
According to his lawsuit, Jackson was one of two African-American employees of the city when Jackson filed the suit in September 2017 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
The lawsuit claimed Jackson was the victim of racist and discriminatory comments and actions by members of the public and fellow city employees after Hastings made social media posts that some said were racist. The suit claimed that the city acted in retaliation against Jackson for “opposing what he reasonably and in good faith believed to be race discrimination.”
The lawsuit alleged that another city employee used a racial slur against Jackson, made inappropriate comments and said Jackson was “not the right color” after Jackson’s supervisor recommended him for a promotion.
The lawsuit alleged the city retaliated against Jackson by exploiting his disabilities after he and other members of the African-American community called on Hastings to resign in December 2015.
The suit claimed that the alleged retaliation was also in response to a charge of discrimination Jackson had filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in February 2016 in which Jackson claimed he was retaliated against “for complaining to the City about inappropriate and discriminatory comments by Mr. Hastings.”
In a separate federal court filing also dated Sept. 21, Jackson moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting the city from requiring him to submit to a medical examination as a condition of continued employment, which is referenced in the federal lawsuit multiple times as retaliation from the city for Jackson’s protest of what he believed to be racial discrimination.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @AbernathyGary.